In part-2 of How to Practice Carnatic Music with a Metronome, I described some beginning exercises for the vina that combine meditation with practice of basic right hand plucking techniques that need early mastery. I described five such exercises for anchoring the flow of musical time in the body through breathing.
One problem with having so many exercises is that it isn’t clear to beginner students which one to pick that’s right for them .. and, to be fair, neither did I have a clear idea of which one would be good for beginners – if I were to pick one. Now that some time has passed since I came up with those exercises and some students have had the chance to try them out, I do have a better idea and I can suggest one.
Part 1 presented internalizing “layam” or musical time as the practice goal for working with a metronome. In the course of teaching vina, I realized that practice with a metronome already requires a sense of time and if this has not been nurtured initially, it can lead to an aversion to practicing with one to gain mastery over time and an unhealthy reliance on it, even if warned as I did with Part 1.
Internalizing the flow of musical time, known as “layam”, is an essential aspect of the training of a student of Carnatic music. Though the adage “sruti mata, laya pitah” (“pitch is the mother and time is the father”) is oft repeated, what we find in practice is that a reference for the sruti (tonic) is recommended for and always used by even beginner students, but a comparable reference for time in the form of a metronome is almost never seen.